Last week capped off our “buy and sell” series covering each NHL team, analyzing one player to buy, and one to sell (links to parts one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven). Check these out for some added insight on a few undervalued and overvalued players heading into this season.
Weekly reminder to get the DobberHockey 2018-2019 Fantasy guide so you can research anyone else you need to for all your offseason trade discussions and draft needs. It’s not too late to get it before your drafts, but do it early. Don’t expect to just skim through it in an hour. There is too much excellent content in it for that.
And then there were two. William Nylander and Nick Ritchie continue to negotiate new contracts, sticking to their guns in contract talks with their respective clubs. Toronto and Anaheim both have some depth at forward, so should either player miss time, the teams shouldn’t struggle much without them in the lineup. A holdout could even present an even better opportunity for a younger player to jump into some more favourable ice time. Keep an eye on Maxime Comtois, Sam Steel and Troy Terry from the Ducks, as well as Tyler Ennis, Kasperi Kapanen and Josh Lievo from the Maple Leafs. This is especially relevant for the Anaheim trio, as Corey Perry will be missing the next five months after undergoing knee surgery.
Both teams have the cap space necessary to get a deal done, but how much of a dent is a new contract going to put in their caps?
My contract prediction model gives these numbers:
William Nylander: An AAV of $8,500,000 for eight years.
Nick Ritchie: An AAV of $2,600,000 for three years.
Nylander’s contract prediction comes out where some pundits expect his ask to be, matching Leon Draisaitl’s contract. Nylander has earned it to this point, and in points leagues, would likely be worth the cost across the length of the contract. It is a tough pill to swallow for the Maple Leafs however, and it is likely there are looking for a deal more in the $6 million range.
Time will tell who blinks first, but if it’s a long-term deal, my bet is it’s Kyle Dubas, settling for an AAV up around $7.85 million. If it’s a two or three-year bridge deal, we may see the inflated version of the two-year $6 million AAV contract that Artemi Panarin signed with the Chicago Blackhawks. That deal was 8.22% of the salary cap at the time ($73 million), which means at a $79.5 million salary cap, we may see Nylander’s deal pushing past $6.5 million anyways.
In Ritchie’s case, teammate Ondrej Kase is the same age, and signed the exact same deal the is predicted for Ritchie. Kase however, had a little more success last season. This could be cancelled out in contract talks, by Ritchie’s perceived upside based on his draft pedigree (10th overall in 2014). A three-year bridge deal would make a lot of sense for both sides, and this at a price that seems to be exactly what the market value shows.
The Ottawa Senators
Can anyone dig up exactly what moment in time owner Eugene Melnyk lost his mind and decided to field the best golf team the NHL has ever seen? The number of minus players on the Senators next season may break records, and there’s no end in sight to the management madness.
On Tuesday, they waived Zach Smith, and it seems like they really will be following through on the promise to roster a whole ton of rookies. Keep an eye on the team, because even though they will likely finish last in the standings, someone is going to have to score, and a lot of those players are on cheap contracts. If you can stomach the plus/minus, then this could be your source of undervalued cheap production. Players such as Chris Tierney, Colin White, Ryan Dzingel, Chris Wideman, and Dylan DeMelo all look like good under-the-radar options heading into the season.
Following up on Theodore, he signed a much more lucrative deal than expected. That’s what happens when you make it to the Stanley Cup Finals and skip right over the bridge deal. A $5 million AAV seems to be the going rate now for long-term defencemen contracts who are young, and solid, but not superstars. Comparable players having recently signed contracts similar to Theodore would be Brady Skjei, Jaccob Slavin, and Noah Hanifin. In fantasy, Theodore is your best bet of that group. What that says, is that he may not be a bargain anymore, but he is worth owning at that price in most leagues.
Seth Jones’s Replacement
As with the Shea Weber/Jeff Petry situation in Montral, there is some value to be found in the replacement player missing a chunk of time at the beginning of the season due to injury. This one may sneak under the radar as well, since Columbus has two top defencemen and most will just assume that most of Jones’ production will be picked up by Zach Werenski. However, that is unlikely to be the case. There is a big of a fallout to be dissected here, with three main part to it:
The Power Play
Jones logs some heavy first unit power play minutes alongside Werenski, and though the third-best puck moving defenceman on the team, Marcus Nutivaara, could handle jumping up to the first unit, filling a slot with a forward makes the most sense. Perhaps this is a boost to Nick Foligno or Boone Jenner, but it would not be surprising to see the PP1 time go to Oliver Bjorkstrand. He’s now worth a flier in anything deeper than a 12-team league.
The Roster Spot
This one is fairly straightforward. Teams typically ice six defenceman, you take one away, and you need to replace him. Dean Kukan looked like a solid bet to make the team even before the injury, so he is basically a lock now. He won’t pad the stat sheets, but he is efficient on his $700,000 salary. Gabriel Carlsson also looks like he should grab the last roster spot while Jones is out, and he likely has a little more fantasy appeal than Kukan. Neither is largely relevant except in much deeper leagues.
The Top Pairing Minutes
This likely goes to David Savard, who should see a bit of an uptick in his peripheral stats due to the increased time on ice. His scoring potential doesn’t see a large increase, but an extra handful of points early in the season never hurt a fantasy owner. His $4.25 million price tag is a little tough for many managers to swallow, so beware what you’re getting yourself into here.
Thanks for reading. Let me know in the comments if there are any topics you would like me to delve further into as the season begins.
As always, you can find me on twitter @alexdmaclean.